Courts

Monday, June 18, 2018

Arcata Rancher Charged on 35 Counts Related to Animal Cruelty Investigation

Posted By on Mon, Jun 18, 2018 at 4:07 PM

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Raymond Christie, the Arcata rancher arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty on Mar. 19, has been formally charged by the Humboldt County District Attorney's office on 35 counts, mostly related to animal cruelty and neglect.

Included in the charges are seven counts of felony cruelty by "failing to provide sustenance, drink, shelter or subject any animal to needless suffering" to cattle, a goat and a pig across different Christie-owned properties in Orick, McKinleyville, Trinidad, Arcata and Eureka.

The remaining 28 charges are misdemeanors under California Fish and Game Code 5652(a) related to disposal of litter or carcasses "within 150 feet of a state waterway." Christie is charged with disposing multiple cattle carcasses near waterways on most of his properties. The complaint specifies that more than 200 cattle carcasses were dumped near waterways on his Jackson Ranch Road property in Arcata.

In March, the sheriff's office confirmed to the Journal that Christie had returned to the Humboldt County Auction and picked up more cattle after leaving jail. HCSO spokesperson Samantha Karges explained to the Journal that Christie had bid on the cattle prior to being arrested and — once he posted bail — he was able to pay for the animals.

If Christie is found guilty in the present case, the court will have the opportunity to mandate whether he can purchase or keep animals in the future, according to Karges.
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McKinleyville Mom Granted Bail After 7-Month Immigration Detention

Posted By on Mon, Jun 18, 2018 at 3:40 PM

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A McKinleyville woman has been granted the opportunity to post bail by a federal immigration judge after a seven-month detention in Bakersfield.

Claudia Portillo, a 33 year old who immigrated to the United States from El Salvador when she was 7, was taken into custody and transferred to the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility in November after she showed up for a “routine” immigration appointment in San Francisco, according to a press release from the  True North Organizing Network.

This morning, Judge Patrick O’Brien granted Portillo’s request to be released on $12,000 bond, though the Department of Homeland Security can appeal his ruling, which would delay Portillo’s release.

Portillo has four daughters, one of whom graduated from Arcata High School last week.

A community fundraiser held over the past week raised more than $8,000 and community groups are currently working to raise the rest of the money needed for Portillo’s bond with the hopes she will be able to return home this week.

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Friday, June 15, 2018

County Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit for $3.5 Million

Posted By on Fri, Jun 15, 2018 at 12:42 PM

Daren Borges and his mother, Stephany Borges. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Daren Borges and his mother, Stephany Borges.
The county of Humboldt has settled the federal civil rights lawsuit stemming from the 2014 jail death of Daren Borges, agreeing to pay Borges’ family $3.5 million in damages and legal fees, and to make various changes to jail policy.

Borges, 42, a homeless, schizophrenic poet and artist, was living in Eureka at the time of his June 13, 2014 arrest on suspicion of public intoxication. Eureka police officers arrested him at about 2:15 p.m. near the corner of Seventh and D streets, and booked him into the jail 25 minutes later. Correctional officers placed Borges alone in a sobering cell, where he was found unresponsive about an hour and 20 minutes later.

In August, a federal jury found county correctional officers failed to follow policy and recklessly disregarded Borges’ obvious medical needs and effectively caused his death when they rushed him through the booking process and opted not to have him medically screened before placing him into the sobering cell where he died of a methamphetamine overdose. The jury, which deliberated for about 10 hours before returning its unanimous verdicts, also found that Humboldt County had failed to adequately train its correctional officers.

Immediately after the jury's $2.5 million verdict, the county indicated it would seek to have the verdict thrown out and ask for a new trial in the case but it appears settlement negotiations have been underway since October, according to court records.

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Lawsuit: Zoellner Alleges APD Falsified Reports in Lawson Investigation

Posted By on Thu, Jun 14, 2018 at 11:33 AM

Kyle Christopher Zoellner's booking photo. - COURTESY OF THE ARCATA POLICE DEPARTMENT
  • Courtesy of the Arcata Police Department
  • Kyle Christopher Zoellner's booking photo.
Kyle Zoellner, the 24-year-old McKinleyville man accused last year of fatally stabbing a Humboldt State University student on April 15, 2017, has filed a lawsuit against the city of Arcata alleging police and city officials violated his civil rights.

Zoellner — who was arrested at the scene of an off-campus party where David Josiah Lawson, 19, was stabbed to death during an altercation but was later released from custody after charges were dismissed — filed the lawsuit last month seeking damages in excess of $25,000 and alleging officers failed to get him proper medical attention after he was detained at the scene, that they falsified police reports and that the city defamed his character. Zoellner is representing himself in the case, which is evident in the filing. (The Journal was unable to obtain a copy of the lawsuit for weeks as the case file was with Humboldt County Superior Court judges who were, evidently, having some trouble determining who would preside over the case, as three of them worked in the public defender’s office when it represented Zoellner and a fourth heard Zoellner’s criminal case.)

In his complaint, Zoellner makes four basic allegations: That officers lacked probable cause to arrest him, that they filed false reports in order to get prosecutors to charge Zoellner with murder, that they failed to provide Zoellner with “necessary” medical attention when he was detained and that the city defamed him with its public statements. Zoellner is representing himself in the case.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Succulent Poaching Trio Pleads Guilty

Posted By on Tue, Jun 12, 2018 at 4:16 PM

Succulent poaching is on the rise, CDFW officials say. - COURTESY OF CDFW
  • Courtesy of CDFW
  • Succulent poaching is on the rise, CDFW officials say.
Three poachers who operated an international smuggling ring that shipped succulents from Humboldt County to the Asian market have pleaded guilty to felony and misdemeanor charges, including conspiracy and stealing plants from public lands.

According to a California Department of Fish and Wildlife press release, the trio — Liu Fengxia, 37, of China, and Tae-Hun Kim, 52, and Tae-Hyun Kim, 46, both from Korea — were shipping the hardy Dudleya plants worth $40 to $50 a piece to a network of overseas buyers.


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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

3rd UPDATE: Killoran Cruises to Judgeship

Posted By on Tue, Jun 5, 2018 at 8:21 PM

Lathe Gill (left) and Lawrence Killoran. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Lathe Gill (left) and Lawrence Killoran.
3rd UPDATE:
In the final election night tally, Lawrence Killoran cruised to becoming Humboldt County's next superior court judge, taking 65.97 percent of the vote to Lathe Gill's 33.64 percent, with 17,143 ballots counted in the race.

Killoran will take over the seat being vacated by retiring Judge Dale Reinholtsen at the end of the year.

"It's very flattering to have the community come together and who that kind of support," Killoran said of the results. "I'm very pleased."

2nd UPDATE:
Lawrence Killoran continues to steamroll his way toward the Humboldt County bench. The third election night tally, which includes a total of 13,307 ballots counted, has Killoran taking 69.46 percent of the vote to Lathe Gill's 31.11 percent. The tally includes reports from about 40 percent of Humboldt County precincts.

1st UPDATE:
Lawrence Killoran continues to run away with Humboldt County’s first contested judicial race in decades. With the second election night returns, Killoran has 69.39 percent of the vote to Lathe Gill’s 30.15 percent, with 10,723 votes counted and 17 percent of precincts reporting.


PREVIOUSLY:
In Humboldt County’s first contested judicial election in 20 years, attorney Lawrence Killoran has jumped out to a seemingly commanding early lead, taking 70.83 percent of the vote to Lathe Gill's 28.73 percent, in the race to fill the seat retiring Judge Dale Reinholtsen has held for 21 years.

The initial results — which include about 8,474 votes cast in the race — only include the vote-by-mail ballots that arrived at the county elections office prior to today and early voting.


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Saturday, June 2, 2018

Gov. Makes Fourth HumCo Judicial Appointment in Past 12 Months

Posted By on Sat, Jun 2, 2018 at 9:07 AM

Timothy Canning - GOVERNOR'S PRESS OFFICE
  • Governor's Press Office
  • Timothy Canning
For the first time in recent memory, the Humboldt County Superior Court bench is back at full strength.

Gov. Jerry Brown has announced he will appoint Timothy Canning, the 59-year-old court commissioner from Arcata, to the seat vacated by the retirement of Judge John T. Feeney earlier this year. Canning, a Democrat, according to the governor’s press release announcing the appointment, has a law degree from University of California Hastings and was in private practice for 25 years before serving as the Humboldt County Superior Court’s research attorney for two years, then assuming the role as court commissioner in 2017.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Suspect Eureka Shooter Had Extensive Criminal Record

Posted By on Tue, May 8, 2018 at 3:27 PM

Ronald Crossland's state inmate photograph. - COURTESY OF CDCR
  • Courtesy of CDCR
  • Ronald Crossland's state inmate photograph.
The man suspected of fatally shooting a woman in Eureka on May 6 before turning the gun on himself hours later in a Fortuna trailer park had an extensive criminal record that included several stints in prison, according to state corrections officials and local law enforcement.

Ronald Allen Crossland, 52, is believed to have shot Fortuna resident Sharral Lynne McDonald, 60, just before 5 p.m. while she was at another woman’s home on the 3300 block of H Street.

EPD public information officer Brittany Powell wrote in an email to the Journal that McDonald “appears” to have known Crossland through the second woman, who was also in the house but unharmed, and the possibility of the shooting being an act of domestic violence is “under investigation.”

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Marek Reavis Appointed New Public Defender

Posted By on Tue, Apr 24, 2018 at 5:53 PM

Marek Reavis - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Marek Reavis
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted in closed session this afternoon to appoint Marek Reavis, currently serving as interim public defender, to that office's top job. Reavis' appointment caps a tumultuous year for the department, which saw public outcry and mass resignations over the board's previous appointment, David Marcus, whom many considered unqualified. After Marcus abruptly left in November, Conflict Counsel Kaleb Cockrum briefly took the reins of the office, which had hemorrhaged staff under Marcus' tenure. But Cockrum was appointed judge in February, leaving Reavis to step in. The Board apparently thought he was doing a good job.

Reavis had an uncommon life path to his current place of residence and career, beginning life in St. Louis, Missouri, before traveling around the country as an artist and painter before deciding to attend law school at the University of California in Berkeley. He was admitted to the California State Bar in 2000. He said he always knew he wanted to work as a criminal defense attorney.

"Growing up, I watched Perry Mason, The Defenders," he told the Journal. "When I was a junior in a law firm, I was planning for my first deposition."

Working in Humboldt County for Conflict Counsel, where he has been since February of 2006, was the perfect fit for him. He was, he said, "in the mix" right away.

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

St. Joseph Health Hit with Anti-Trust Lawsuit Alleging Unfair Business Practices to Protect 10-fold Price Markeups

Posted By on Sun, Apr 22, 2018 at 10:19 AM

St. Joseph Hospital. - FILE
  • FIle
  • St. Joseph Hospital.
The company that owns Redwood Urgent Care has filed a federal lawsuit against St. Joseph Hospital, alleging pervasive and systemic violations of state and federal laws designed to protect fair business competition.

Wahidullah Medical Corp., which owns Redwood Urgent Care and its outpatient medical testing laboratory, filed the anti-trust suit earlier this month, seeking a preliminary injunction, jury trial and unspecified damages. The suit — filed by a heavyweight anti-trust lawyer — alleges that St. Joseph Hospital has illegally conspired to stifle competition for outpatient medical lab testing in the Eureka market by misleading consumers, making its electronic medical records system incompatible with that of Redwood Urgent Care and actively defaming its competition in order to maintain up to 10-fold markups on services.

St. Joseph Hospital spokesperson Christian Hill declined to discuss the lawsuit, saying the hospital is “unable to comment on active litigation.” The hospital is expected to file a reply to the complaint in federal court in the coming weeks.

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